First required by the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) in 1999, Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) technology is relatively new when one considers the history of electrical protection. As a potentially life-saving tool, the evolution and improvement of AFCI technology is top of mind for Leviton’s engineering team. This article will review the benefits of using AFCI protection and how Leviton engineers are committed to improving that technology with our growing Arc Signature Capture Program.
Besides being NEC required for new or replacement construction in many areas throughout the home, including living rooms and bedrooms, AFCIs are vital in helping to prevent electrical fires. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates1 that nearly 50% of home electrical fires could have been prevented with the use of an AFCI device.
Leviton manufactures AFCIs and AFCI/GFCIs in both outlet and circuit breaker types, each one with its own unique advantages. Leviton’s circuit breaker type AFCIs and AFCI/GFCIs protect the entire branch, starting at the load center from parallel and series arc-faults. Outlet type AFCIs help prevent any loads on the branch that are downstream from the outlet, as well as provide protection against upstream parallel arc-faults. They also give the user the option to test and reset at the face of the device, instead of having to do so at the load center.
Leviton’s Smart AFCI and AFCI/GFCI circuit breakers go a step further, capturing arc incidents and sending their unique ‘waveforms’ to the cloud so Leviton’s engineering team can analyze them.
What is an arc signature? Why is it important?
Arc waveforms are signals generated when an arc occurs. Each waveform is unique. For example, a microwave may generate an arc waveform that’s unique to that model.
Once the waveform is captured, it is transmitted to the Leviton cloud where it can be analyzed by engineers. Not all arcing events are dangerous; for instance, simply turning off a light switch generates a small arc. Either way, once the arcs are analyzed, Leviton engineers place the record into a repository of arc waveforms for future reference. If a tripping incident has occurred and it is determined that the arc is being generated by a known source producing a safe arc, Leviton engineers can update the circuit breaker’s firmware to “mask” that arc. Leviton can then push an update to that particular AFCI or AFCI/GFCI breaker. The breaker will then experience more precise tripping during future arc events.
Leviton’s commitment to developing best in class safety products has led our team to the forefront of this initiative. Learn more about Leviton’s AFCI devices by visiting Leviton.com/afci.
To learn more about Leviton’s Arc Signature Capture Program, watch the recorded webinar: National Electrical Code Updates